5 Reasons you're not getting response from your email list–and what you can do about it

Jul 27
10 min read
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods to engage your audience. However, if you're not getting responses from your email list, you might just be burning cash. It's time to figure out why your emails aren't working and how you can optimize your campaigns to grow your business.This article will identify five of the most common reasons people don't respond to your emails and what you can do about it.
5 reasons you're not getting response from your email list - man showing his hand with 5 fingers

Here is how.

Reason #1 – Your emails don’t reach your audience

Many technical things have to happen for an email to successfully reach an audience. Some of these technical things are in our control, and others require some help.

How to tell if it's a problem

So what are these things that happen?

Your emails are junked

There are many factors that can send your email campaign to the junk box. Among them: Domain authentication and List hygiene are not only pretty powerful but become mandatory to reach the inbox. Here's a blog post explaining it better, “Why is my email in the #$*& junk folder?” 

But we also see that if an email provider deems your email as promotion or marketing, there's unfortunately a chance it ends up in the Spam or Junk folder. Don’t lose faith: keeping a high engagement rate with your subscribers is more important than ever and your work is important. You can also work on this Promotion identification by using BIMI technology: Build trust and showcase your brand in your subscribers’ inboxes with BIMI

Your emails never made it

This is less common, but there are chances that your email never got to where it was meant to go. Perhaps it was a scheduling error, or a major issue with your list preventing even your “good” emails to be sent or simply a temporary issue creating a soft bounce. Look for your Delivery Rate. If it’s qualified as Bad or Low, you may want to talk to someone on the customer support team to help you review your practices.

There are some other things you can do to help your emails get delivered to where they are meant to be. For one, you've probably seen an email from a company asking you to move their email from the junk folder to the inbox. Annoying, right? Well, even if a few people on your list do it, that will increase the delivery rate of your emails.

If you're having technical issues, talk to the team behind the deployment. See what can be done to increase your delivery rate and implement it.

Reason #2 – Your subject lines are too weak

You know the saying, "It's not you, it's me." Well, it might actually be you. Perhaps the reason people aren't reading, reacting, and engaging with your emails is that you aren't grabbing their attention well enough. People receive hundreds of emails a day.  This means you really need to stand out, and you have to capture attention immediately.

How to Tell if It's a Problem

How can you tell if no one is bothering to open your emails? Check your open rates vs. your industry's standards. If you're way off, it could be the problem. If you're far above, perhaps the answer lies inside the email instead.

There is a caveat here. With Apple changing the way we are able to track open rates, everyone's numbers have changed over the past year. If you have historical data going back several years, it might be best to compare those numbers to benchmarks. It could be another year until we see the full impact of the most recent changes.

How to fix it

Besides checking open rate numbers, the best way to fix your sorry subject lines is to A/B test them. A/B testing a subject line is when you send one subject line to a part of your list and another subject line to the rest of your list. This doesn't have to be a 50/50 split. Depending on how many people are on your list, you could do an 80/20 split or test three different subject lines with an 80/10/10 split. Just make sure you can keep track of those changes to reproduce the good results!

There are no limits to how you can test your subject lines to see what connects best with your audience. The goal is to make the subject lines different enough that you can learn something from the test. Changing just a single word might not get the job done. Try testing emojis and punctuation marks, asking questions, or making a bold statement.

Reason #3 – You Have Poor List Hygiene

Sending emails to people who don't want your emails doesn’t do you any favors. If someone hasn't bothered to open your last handful of emails, it may be time to let them go. You're wasting your time and your money. Resources you could use to improve your emails or get new signups instead.

How to Tell if It's a Problem

Dig through your numbers and check to see how many of your audience members are currently ghosting you. Just like any other relationship, if you're the only one sending a text and getting nothing in response, it means they just aren't really that into you. Move on. Really. We mean it.

How to Fix It

Clean your list regularly. If you need help figuring that out or knowing what that means, check out The three mistakes experts easily avoid when creating an email campaign and Our 10 best email marketing resolutions to reach your goals and grow your business.

Reason #4 – You've worn out your audience

Do you send emails too frequently or at bad times? There are no hard and fast rules as to how many emails you should send or what days you should send emails. However, there are some best practices you can pull from and see if those might be right for you.

How to tell if it's a Problem

This is likely a sign to find in your open rates as well, but as we said–Apple’s Mail Privacy update created a difficult situation, so don't jump to conclusions just based on a few months of data. You can also see this in your engagement numbers. If you send out discount codes or offers every day or constantly ask your audience to take action after action, they may just be tired of it all.

If you're like most people, you're a member of several email lists. Think through or do some research to see which ones you respond to or take action on the most. In your mind, what is that company doing right to get you to engage with them? Then, look at those you never even open. What are they doing wrong? What would it take to get you to re-engage with their emails?

How to fix it

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Consider what companies are doing a bang-up job and do what they're doing. No, don't steal their words and images–that's plagiarism. Steal their cadence, their frequency, and how they approach their list. See if what they are doing will work for you.

Plastic fruits copies
Consider what companies are doing a bang-up job and do what they're doing

Reason #5 – Your audience doesn't find value in your emails

This is a tough one. No one wants to be told that the work they do is worthless. Try not to take it personally. But, similar to what we've discussed above, people are busy and they are hit with dozens or hundreds of emails a day. If your email is not offering any value, what motivation do they have to open it and take action on it?

The short answer is none.

How to tell if it's a problem

Consider all your important metrics:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Clicks overall
  • Website visits (directly from your email)
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • New subscriber rate

Be honest. How do those numbers look? Then compare how they look over time. Make a graph if you need to, and try to see if each is going in a positive direction or a negative one.

Once you've looked at the numbers, consider your last dozen emails and see what value each of them brought to the recipient. Did you make any special offers? Did you offer discounts that only your email list could receive? What was the enticing factor for each of the emails?

Write them all down. There's something about seeing it all in front of you that really helps you understand what's happening.

Now consider if those offers were "enough." Would they be enough to get you to engage?

If the answer is anything but "Hell yes!" then it's time to make some changes.

How to fix it

Without changing your entire marketing plan, you need to develop better ways to provide value in your emails. Maybe this means a better discount, but maybe not. If your email is just a way for you to increase clicks through to your blog content, then maybe it's the content itself that isn't providing enough value. Giving someone money off a product or service is not the only way to provide great value.

In fact, here are some things you could consider doing to shake up your email monotony:

Have a giveaway

Even with the giveaway being very commonplace now, people still love a good freebie offer. Offering a unique gift, swag, or product through a group giveaway can be a great way to mix things up and re-engage your audience.

Offer exclusivity

The last question you want people to ask themselves when they see your email is, "When/Why did I sign up for this?" Because then it's likely that a "Click here to unsubscribe" action is soon to follow. Make sure your list understands why they are on your list and just how valuable it is for them to stay on it. They DO NOT want to miss your emails. An email list is a promise to your audience. Keep your promises.

Switch up your images or layout

Everyone loves a good makeover. In fact, there are about 722 house makeover shows and a billion episodes of Queer Eye because of it. Take a look at your layout and challenge yourself, someone you work with, or hire a freelancer to produce something entirely different. Who knows, maybe the new look will refresh your audience as well.

Keep a swipe file. This is a simple folder on your computer full of inspiration, screenshots, and images of brands doing fun and interesting stuff. Having inspo to draw from might ignite an idea in you that's worth attempting.

Use less CTAs or more CTAs

How many CTAs (call-to-actions) should an email have? Who really knows? Ask some, and it's one–a singular focus and action. Ask others, and the answer is anywhere from three to seven. More importantly, how many CTAs do your current emails have? What if you reduced it or added to it? You don't know if you don't test it.

Try videos or Gifs

Static images are so two-thousand-teens ago. Look around the internet and social media. Videos and gifs rule the day. Introduce them into your email marketing. Your audience might love it.

Play a game / Tell a story

Email marketing doesn't always have to be serious business or boring. Too often, we get caught up in "having" to send out another email this month that we just haphazardly put one together, slap an image and a CTA button on it, and call it a day. What would happen if we got really creative instead? Play a game of mystery with your audience. Lead them down a path of discovery. Tell a story. Have fun and let loose every once in a while.

Try anything else

When in doubt, do something… anything else! Try new ideas with a part of your list and see what happens! Maybe it'll succeed or fall completely flat. You don't know until you try. If you have a flailing list anyways, it's time to be creative to reconnect.

Email marketing is hard. But, it's still one of the top ways to engage regularly with people who adore your brand and services. Taking these steps above can help you rekindle lost flames and hopefully reinvigorate your email marketing campaigns.

Need help taking your emails to the next level? Maybe we can help!

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